An arrest – even for some of the most minor crimes – can follow people their entire lives and prevent job opportunities, education and housing.
Dallas County is hosting its sixth Expunction Expo, allowing those eligible to have criminal records cleared.
Texas law allows records to be expunged if a person meets certain criteria, but many are often unaware they may be eligible or can not afford to hire an attorney.
The expo is a partnership between the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, District Clerk’s Office, Public Defender’s Office and several volunteer groups offering free legal services.
The program was initially launched by Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson but has continued under current DA John Creuzot. It’s steadily grown to help more than 1,700 people, according to the district attorney’s office.
"There are some people who have nothing whatsoever except this and it’s kind of hanging there, standing there and it’s an impediment to moving on," said Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot.
Those interested must fill out an application online by July 11. Those who meet the criteria will be contacted by Sept. 12. A volunteer attorney will then connect with those eligible to begin the paperwork of filing for an expungement.
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Kristin Salas is with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and helps people expunge arrests from their record, which will show up when an employer or landlord does a criminal background check.
"They don't look beyond that one arrest – 'Oh look it got dismissed. They were really innocent in this whole thing' -- so it’s those types of cases that the expunction will actually help," said Salas.
Per Texas statute, individuals who have offenses on their criminal record may qualify for an expunction if any of the following apply.
- You were arrested but a charge was never filed, was no-billed by the grand jury, or was rejected by the District Attorney’s Office.
- Your Felony, Class A misdemeanor, or Class B misdemeanor charge was dismissed without any type of community supervision or probation prior to the dismissal.
- Your Class C misdemeanor was dismissed, or you successfully completed Class C deferred adjudication.
- You were acquitted (found "not guilty") of your charge by a judge, jury, or appellate court.
- You were convicted of a crime but later pardoned by the Texas Governor or the United States President, or you were convicted before 09/01/2021 for Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon under Section 46.02(a) of the Penal Code.
A case is not eligible for an expunction, if:
- It is still pending.
- You were convicted in the case, even if you only paid a fine.
- You received probation, community supervision or offered adjudication for a felony Class A misdemeanor or Class B misdemeanor, even if your case was later dismissed.
- The case you want to be expunged is a felony, and you were arrested for another offense at the same time that resulted in a conviction, probation, community supervision, or deferred adjudication.